The [Sometimes] Unbearable Wait to See a Psychologist

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Personally, I was aware of this issue for a while. After visiting a psychologist on a regular basis for 10 years, it wasn’t news to me that there was an enormous demand for psychologists. But, I only started to feel the scarcity of available appointments during the past couple of weeks.

Lets take a peek at some statistics:

Between 2014 – 2024
Average growth of all occupations: 7%
Predicted psychologist growth: 19%
Predicted psychiatrist growth: 15%
Predicted social worker growth: 12%
Predicted clinical, counseling, & school psychologists: 20%

High school students who take the Advanced Placement psychology test went from 3,916 students in 1992 to 303,000 students in 2017. In college, psychology is the 4th most popular individual major.

Between 2004 and 2013, Master’s degrees in psychology rose 54% and Doctorate degrees rose 32%. More than half of all Master’s and Doctorate degrees were in clinical, counseling, and school psychology

Source – American Psychological Association

The release of the first State of Mental Health in America report was in 2015, so there aren’t many reliable statistics for the rise of mental health conditions throughout the past decades. Overall, though, the prevalence of mental health is increasing.

GeneralMHFactsWhile wait times vary greatly from region to region, the National Institute of Health found that the average wait time for an appointment with a psychologist was between 29-81 days, with those on Medicaid waiting longer than those with private insurance.

Now, those who are experiencing a mental health crisis should seek immediate help through the emergency room. If you’re like me, you feel like your “crisis” doesn’t warrant an emergency room visit. After all, there are others in life or death situations that need the doctors’ attention.

My “crisis” warrants a therapy appointment within a reasonable time frame, like three to five days. However, my current crisis, which started 2 weeks ago, unfortunately needed to be put on hold, as if I can really control when I experience my major mental health issues with major depressive disorder and general anxiety. The next available appointment for me? 6 weeks from the time I called to make an appointment. Various things can happen within the span of 6 weeks. The issues that I called to make an appointment for can be long gone, repressed, thrown away in my mind’s trash bin. Repression happens in the face of survival. Without repression, I wouldn’t be here. Once my downwards spiral into depression starts, it’s very hard to take back control without some help and guidance.

If the current wait time to see a counselor, therapist, social worker, or psychiatrist is too long, try talking to your primary care doctor. Often times, you can get an earlier appointment. In this respect, you can at least have some general guidance and suggestions on how to cope while you wait for your therapy appointment.

Other resources are plentiful as well, but these require the will to actually dig yourself out of the mental health hole that you’re in. Online articles and worksheets can be of some benefit, as well as talking to others who might be experiencing the same things. While it can be counter-productive, it can also help you not feel so alone. Generally, it just depends on your perception. Specific hotlines are also available, see list below.

Personally, I wish I could do something to help everyone, but that’s unrealistic. Lastly, it’s important to recognize that most therapists, counselors, social workers, etc. work hard at providing for their clients and do everything in their ability to help. Usually, the long wait times for appointments are unavoidable, as the demand for psychologists seems never-ending. When making an appointment, ask if there is a cancellation list. If there is, ask to be put on it. In my experience, this can lead to a much quicker appointment as this is a go-to list when a psychologist has a last-minute cancellation.

 

FOR A LIST OF U.S. HOTLINES, CLICK HERE


 

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